Released on November 16, 2023
Access to Justice Initiative Enables Separated Parents to Bypass Family Courts
The Government of Saskatchewan is launching a Child Support Service to assist parents, who are experiencing separation and divorce, to calculate initial child support without having to go to family court. This will expand the Child Support Service (formerly the Child Support Recalculation Service), launched in 2018, which has offered a faster, more efficient way for separated parents to update support amounts for existing child support orders.
"The family court process can be costly, complex, time-consuming, and cause great stress to parents and children," Justice Minister and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre said. "This service aims to reduce some of that financial burden and anxiety and allow parents to focus on the wellbeing of their children."
"The cost of legal services leaves many Saskatchewan parents navigating family court on their own,” Legal Aid Regina Legal Director Tyne Hagey said. “Child support is the right of the child, and programs such as the Child Support Service help parents from all backgrounds have equal access to resources that can help them provide for their children.”
Since 2018, the Recalculation Service has issued more than 507 recalculations and helped 776 children receive the support amount to which they were entitled, sparing families the expense of legal fees and going to court. Last fiscal year, the Recalculation Service issued a record 124 child support decisions. This year, 91 decisions have been issued to date, and these numbers are projected to increase with the addition of calculation services, putting the service on track to surpass last year’s record.
Saskatchewan's Family Justice Services also includes other programs and policies that help to resolve family law issues outside the courts:
- Mandatory Family Dispute Resolution, which came into force province-wide in July, 2022, requires families to participate in a family dispute resolution process (mediation, arbitration, parenting coordination, or collaborative law) before going to family court.
- The Family Law Screening program, in Regina and Saskatoon, is a pilot project introduced in October, 2022, which reviews family court applications to ensure that they meet all requirements for the court process. Officers are also trained to identify risk factors and warning signs of family violence and make referrals.
- The Family Law Information Centre provides family law self-help kits, videos, information, and referrals to help people who cannot afford to hire a lawyer or choose to represent themselves in family court. Last year, the centre handled more than 12,700 inquires by phone and email from the public, in addition to hosting walk-in family law information sessions for more than 600 people.
In November 2023, the Government of Saskatchewan also signed a federal-provincial information sharing agreement, which provides the Child Support Service expanded access to trace and locate information from federal databanks to assist parents in establishing and updating support agreements. The federal Department of Justice is providing financial support to Child Support Services, through the Canadian Family Justice Fund.
“Divorce and separation are realities for many Canadians,” said Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. “Ensuring that Canada’s family justice system can effectively respond to the needs of families in these situations is critical. By working with the Government of Saskatchewan and providing $345,654 over two years for Child Support Services, families experiencing separation and divorce will now have better and more affordable access to justice by helping parents determine the amount of child support outside of court."
For more information, contact:Ariane Whiting
Justice and Attorney General